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tv   This Week With Christiane Amanpour  ABC  April 3, 2011 10:00am-11:00am EDT

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this week -- furious mobs kill more western civilians in afghanistan. as the death toll mounts, the florida pastor who started it by burning a koran says he has no regrets. >> we do not feel responsible, no. >> our correspondent is with american soldiers in the deadliest fight against the taliban in months. then in libya, despite u.s. and nato bombing runs meant to save them, rebels are in retreat from gadhafi's forces. is america in a battle it can't win? three wars and billions of dollars later, we'll discuss this with the president's former national security adviser. in his first interview since leaving the white house. also, who will pay for it all?
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the jobs picture is getting brighter. could rising prices, revolution, and a nuclear disaster kill the recovery? and as partisan bickering meets the bloated budget, will the government shut down later this week? >> i say, shut it down. >> two top senators join us for a "this week" debate. >> announcer: live from the newseum in washington, "this week" starts right now. welcome to the program. right now, the middle east is falling further into chaos. violence, and uncertainty. as the united states grapples with fresh challenges in 2 of its 3 wars. president obama, who ran as the anti-war kencandidate, now find himself struggling to defend new military action overseas. while the situations in libya,
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afghanistan, and across the middle east pose new threats to u.s. security and credibility. i'll be talking to my colleagues mike boettcher and nick schifrin in afghanistan, and jeffrey kofman and alex marquardt on the front lines in libya. let's turn first to afghanistan. a firefight along the pakistan border brought one of the deadliest days for american troops in months. where the battle for hearts and minds may have been erased overnight at the hands of a fringe pastor in florida. after months of threatening to burn a copy of the koran, pastor terry jones and his handful of followers finally did just that. the deliberately provocative act was paid little attention here in the united states. but it spread like wildfire online. within days, protests in afghanistan turned deadly. mike boettcher is embedded with the 100th airborne division.
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he was the lone reporter in that offensive. how bad was that fight? >> reporter: in 30 years covering wars, i have never seen such withering fire. soldiers that have been deployed four or five times will tell you the same thing. a high price was paid. six u.s. soldiers were killed. six were wounded. two afghan national army were killed. and seven afghans were wounded in this battle. the battle continues as we speak. this is significant because it marx a turning point or change in strategy along the pakistan border. bases have been closed in recent months. small combat outposts. the u.s. says they're taking a more mobile strategy, going to areas they haven't been before. going after the taliban. they'll carry it through through the spring and summer and expect to see heavy fighting in the east part of the country in the coming year. christiane? >> meantime in cities across afghanistan today, more scenes of rage and violence in response
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to that florida pastor's decision to burn a koran. the situation presents a grave new problem for the united states. nick schifrin joins me from kabul. today, general petraeus had to come out and condemn the burning of that koran. how bad sit there? >> reporter: we have seen three protests in three days. massive protests 8,000 miles away from that koran burning. people were burning u.s. flags. and chanting death to president obama. one piece op good news. the afghan police did not shoot into the crowds like they did yesterday. on friday, it was supposed to be the first line of defense around u.n. building with seven u.n. workers were killed. they were not able to keep those protesters out of that building. u.s. officials are deeply concerned about that. the place where that happened is the first city that is supposed
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to transfer to afghan control, to transfer to afghan police control in three months. and u.s. and u.n. officials are worried that this incident is a sign that the police are not ready to take control. cristiane? >> nick, thank you. we'll keep monitoring that situation. now we turn to libya. america's newest war is entering the third week of bombing. still no sign that colonel gadhafi will settle down. and now, new worried. nato war planes seem to have mistakenly targeted one of their convoys. must monday, the rebels were in striking distance of capturing gadhafi's hometown of sirte. they had the capital of tripoli in their sights. by week's end, they were beating a hasty retreat. our reporters in libya have been tracking this. jeffrey kofman just arrived in tripoli. and alex marquardt joins us from
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the rebel bastion of benghazi. let's start with jeffrey. jeffrey, in tripoli, any signs of the tension? >> reporter: we didn't hear any bombs dropping but planes were just overhead. it's remarkably normal here. the traffic behind me on the highway. we saw a lot of military checkpoints. long lines for gasoline. the tension is not palpable at this point. the rebels are clearly on the retreat. we're seeing in libya, a divided country, almost two countries. the rebel-held east and the gadhafi-held west. neither one seems to have the strength to unseat the other. the rebels are not manned enough, organized enough, or skilled enough to come to tripoli. and gadhafi, it seems as if the coalition will not let him go
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east to retake the valuable oil fields. the word to describe this is stalemate right now. >> jeffrey, thank you. you mentioned stalemate and divided country. joining me now from the rebel-held city of benghazi is alex marquardt. alex, how are these rebels dealing with being unable to really capitalize on all the help that the no-fly zone is giving them? >> reporter: they're outmanned, outgunned, not able to organize. they don't have the weapons to face gadhafi's superior fire power. they're forced to beat a retreat. they don't have leadership. when they retreat, they do so in a disorganized fashion. no one showing them how to hold the line or retreat. we're seeing glimmers of hope that they'll be able to organize. experienced officers on the front line trying to corral these units. keeping people back in any kind of trainings. on the front lines on friday, for the first time, the general
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technically in charge of these forces, he was welcomed with a hero's welcome. signs that there is some leadership coming to the front lines, that is so desperately needed by these rebels. >> alex, thank you so much. rarely, has a president faced a foreign policy problem this complex. the president came to office pledging to repair america's relationship with the muslim world. now that relationship is damaged like never before. joining me, the president's former national security adviser, general jim jones. thank you for joining us. >> thank you. good to be here. >> let's first talk about afghanistan. that seems to be a real crisis again at the moment. this pastor who burnt the koran is unrepentant. do you think, despite the freedoms envisioned and expressed in the american constitution, he should not have burned that koran? >> i don't think he should have
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done that at all. i think it's extremely irresponsible. look what it's led to. >> you heard mike boettcher's report. a fierce firefight. along the pakistani boarder. right now, do you think the united states forces can pull down significantly in july? >> well, think there can be and there will be some reduction of force in the keeping with the agreement made at portugal at the nato summit. in december. to target 2014, in president karzai's own words, this is when i want to be able to control my entire country. >> can it be done responsibly, if you like? >> i think so. i think it can be done responsibly. we'll have to see what it looks like. a lot of it hinges on what happens on the other side of the border with our friends, the neighbors, the pakistanis. if pakistan turned to what some of us think they should have done more effectively for a long
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period of time now, attacking and removing those safe havens that cause us so much difficulties. if we can get coordination with their forces, i think you can, in fact -- >> you don't seem they're convinced they're playing their part. >> i'm not convinced. i think there was good progress made in the valley and north waziristan a year or so ago. it's not been sustained. there still seems to be the reluctance to engage comprehensively and buy into an overall plan that i think would really help pakistan in the long term. >> all right, general jones, stay with us. up next, we'll talk about libya. will libya become obama's iraq? as some are now suging. it's a question you'll hear more and more in the coming days. i'll ask general jones if he sees an end in sight. ♪
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there will be no american boots on the ground in libya. deposing the gadhafi regime, as welcome as that would be, is not part of the military mission. >> defense secretary robert gates testifying on capitol hill on thursday. he's on the record saying that stopping the violence in libya is not a vital national interest to the united states. but america is now in the game. for how long and to what end? let's bring back retired general jim jones. welcome back again. on libya, secretary gates said on this program and several last week that it was not in the vital interests of the united states. do you agree? >> i agree with that. >> you agree that it's not in the vital interest? >> i agree. it's not a vital interest in the sense that it affects the vital
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security of the nation. but, we're part of an alliance. we're one of the global leaders, if not the global leader. and we have to -- we have to do -- it's more in the vital interest of europeans. when you consider the effects of massive immigration. the effects of terror. the effects of the oil market. >> so the united states is now in it. you can call it what you want. it's a third armed conflict. >> we're a part of it. we're transitioning to a supporting part. only the united states could have gotten there as quickly as it did. >> the united states is making a great fanfare about now giving over to nato. but you're a former nato commander. nato, to all intents and purposes, is an american organization. it's run by an american commander. the chain of command is american.
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the biggest command and control resources are american. this is still an american-led operation, right? >> i'm not sure i completely agree with that. we have -- in the sortis that are being flown right now, it's roughly 50-50. the americans will be supporting. recon, search and rescue, refueling, things like that. there are 40-some odd ships off the coast. only ten are american. 40 flag officers from different countries involved. only ten of them are american. it really is a -- i think it's encouraging to see allies stepping up at a level that we haven't seen before. it's been good. >> what is the end game? i mean, really, what is the end game? we have seen two weeks of bombing. gadhafi is where he is. yes, there have been some high-profile defections. the president has said, gadhafi's got to go.
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>> this is the difficult piece. what do you do when gadhafi goes? because we don't know exactly who the opposition is. >> before that, how do you get gadhafi to go? >> that's the part being worked on. >> do you know? >> i don't know. i don't know the answer to that. i do know that that is the -- that is the wish and the goal of this entire -- of this entire effort. >> you mentioned who are these rebels? it's a question everybody wants to know. >> opposition. >> opposition, rebels. whoever they are. freedom fighters. the world has now taken their side. who are they? do you know? >> i personally do not know. i know that there is tremendous effort going on in many capitals around the world to make sure that we do understand what that is. >> when you see these rebels, as alex marquardt said, what has to be done to help them? should they be armed? should they be trained?
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>> well, think the first thing that has to be done is to find out who these -- who they are. if you start from the proposition that our reason for committing our forces in -- as americans or part of nato, was basically to avoid a massacre of innocent civilians, that probably would have happened, now we're there. now we have to do -- follow the rest of the trail to identify these people. then decide, you know, whether that's meritorious or not. in terms of training, organizing, equipping. the united states has not done that yet. >> isn't it troubling that we don't know who they are and what their goals and aspirations are? >> it's a pop-up mission. it came up quickly. it metastasized to the point where 700,000 people could be threatened. i wish -- in all of these
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things, we always want to it be clear. we want nice, in-state rules. the fog of war sometimes doesn't allow for that. so now, we're putting this together, i think from what i can see, we're doing the things that have to be done before the coalition decides, the u.n. decides what to do next. >> let's quickly turn to yemen. a major american ally. if saleh falls, if the president of yemen falls, what does that mean for the united states? >> i think yemen is very worrisome. saleh has been skillful over the years in being able to consolidate and maintain his power. the trends in yemen are not good. this could be major problem. and where terror is concerned this would be a safe haven that would be a very troubling turn of events. >> is the u.s. to try to keep saleh in power or what? >> i don't know. there are certain things we can
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do and that we can't do. when events reach a certain stage they have a life of their own. and, it would be nice to be able to think that we could do everything and make the world perfect the way we want it. that's not the case. so, the trend lines in yemen are not good. we've invested a lot of work in yemen. but it's -- it's a disturbing trend for the future. and this is -- again, one of the things that i feel strongly about is that when you look at what's going on in this part of the world and you look at the potential, there's reason to be op mystic in some areas and there's reason to be very concerned in others. it's a tremendous tectonic shift. in terms of the world as we know it, in this part of the world for the last 80 years. >> general jones, thank you very much indeed for joining us. what do you think the u.s. should do next in libya? tweet me.
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meanwhile, the costs of the new war are already piling up. more than $500 million so far. all this as congress and the white house remain at logger heads over a federal budget and a government shut down looming. the deadline just five days off. will lawmakers beat the clock? we'll hear from senator chuck schumer and the top republican on the budget committee, jeff sessions. that's in a moment. nt. i needed a coach. our doctor was great, but with so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn who helped us weigh and understand all our options. for me cancer was as scary as a fastball is to some of these kids. but my coach had hit that pitch before. turning data into useful answers. we're 78,000 people looking out for 70 million americans. that's health in numbers. unitedhealthcare. and here's what we did today in homes all across america: we created the electricity that powered the alarm clocks
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having the security of a strong financial partner certainly lets you breathe easier. for more than 140 years, pacific life has helped millions of americans build a secure financial future wouldn't it be nice to take a deep breath and relax? ask a financial professional about pacific life. the power to help you succeed. i have never believed that shutting the government down was a goal. and frankly, let's all be honest. if you shut the government down, it will end up costing more than you save. because you interrupt contracts. there are a lot of problems with the idea of shutting the government down. it is not the goal. >> house speaker john boehner, the man in the middle this week end. caught between a rowdy freshman class and the more moderate republicans who want to deal.
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boehner, of course, wants a deal, too. but as senior political correspondent jon karl tells us, it's hard to broker a compromise in a town where compromise itself has become a dirty word. >> reporter: compromise on spending cuts? not if these folks have anything to say about it. >> it's time to pick a fight. >> because if we don't, we deserve to be thrown out of office. >> liberals in the senate would rather play political games and shut down the government instead of making a small downpayment on fiscal discipline and reform. i say, shut it down. [ cheers ] >> reporter: that was at a tea party rally on capitol hill. one organizer had this message. >> i say to the republican leadership, take off your lace panties. stop being noodle-backs. >> reporter: the attitude runs deep among house republicans, some of whom don't want to
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compromise on spending cuts, or issues like funding for planned parenthood. democrats have agreed to make $30 billion in cuts over the next three months. perhaps the largest cut congress has ever made. speaker john boehner's biggest challenge may be to convince his rank and file to accept victory. >> we control one half of one third of the government here in washington. we can't impose our will on another body. we can't impose our will on the senate. all we can do is fight for all of the spending cuts we can get an agreement to. >> reporter: democrats have their hot heads, too. one obama administration official said the republican bill would kill kids. that's right. kill kids. >> we estimate, and i believe these are conservative. that hr 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying. >> reporter: for weeks, democrats have been accusing republicans of putting the country at risk of a government
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shutdown. enter howard dean. >> yeah! >> reporter: the former democratic party chairman told a group this week that it is democrats that should quietly be rooting for a shutdown so they can blame it on the republicans. >> from a partisan point of view, i think it would be the best thing for a shutdown. >> extreme level. far to the right. >> extreme tea party. >> extreme territory. beyond what was reasonable. >> small, extreme minority. >> reporter: compromise with extremists out to kill kids? they have less than a week to make it happen. for "this week." i'm jonathan karl. >> joining me now, the senate's third ranking democrat, chuck sumer who you just saw there, who joins us from his home state of new york, at our bureau there.
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and with me here in the newseum, senator jeff sessions. thank you for joining me. you saw jon karl's piece. there's a lot of hijinks in that piece. has any progress been made this weekend amongst negotiators? >> i don't know. >> is that a know? >> i don't know that it has. the speaker indicated he has not reached an agreement. i think that negotiations continue and they need to continue. but what this is -- christiane, we need to understand this is more than a republican-democratic squabble. this is -- the fundamental question is, are we headed to a financial crisis if we don't get off the fiscal course we're on? we have had witness after witness say that is so. erskine bowles said that. president obama's choice to head the debt commission. we're predicting a crisis that could happen in two years. we have to take action now. >> we'll get to that.
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from your perspective, senator schumer, has progress been made? will there be a shutdown in five days? >> yes, i don't -- excuse me. i don't think there will be a shutdown, christiane. in fact, i'm quite optimistic. i think progress is being made. they're working off a number, $33 billion in cuts. that's very reasonable. it's between what democrats and republicans have proposed. right in the middle. that was proposed originally by the house republican leaders, ryan and rogers, the head of the appropriations committee. so they're working off that number. that's good. now we have to figure out what goes into that number. that's where the discussions are headed. let me just say a word about that. we have two goals. jeff is right. we have to deal with the deficit seriously. but we also have to deal with the economy and job growth. and we don't want to snuff that out and particularly when we're beginning to see jobs grow.
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if you just cut from domestic discretionary, you'll have to cut things like helping students go to college, scientific research, including cancer research. these things have created millions of jobs through the years. the good news is this. there's another place we can look to cut. not just on domestic discretionary. it's called mandatory spending. it requires you to do something for somebody. the way of doing it is not required. we can find cuts in places like agriculture and other places -- they're now being called chimps, changes in mandatory program spending. we have offered about $10 billion to our colleagues. they're not adverse to them because hr 1 had some of those in. i believe that's how we can come to an agreement that keeps job growth and cuts the deficit at about the $33 billion level. i believe that's where we'll end
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up. >> you raised a number of issues. let me ask senator sessions, do you -- we're talking about the job numbers, do you think that's -- that's good news, rob vously. the job numbers have increased. the unemployment numbers are down. >> it's really high. >> it's come down. >> not much. this was a good month. it was a good month of a little over 200,000. we need to average 250,000 jobs a month. we have only averaged 124,000 in the last three months. we're well below where we need to be. one of the reasons, as the testimony of treasurer geithner said the debt is pulling down our growth. and creates a threat of a crisis that could put us back into recession. we have got to make changes now. >> can you live with the $33 billion in cuts?
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>> i believe we should do 61 total. as the house proposed over ten years. that would be a savings of $860 billion. we have to borrow this money. the house sent a bill over that reduces what is before us, discretionary spending, cr, is the only thing before us. they proposed 61. the democrats started at 4 or 5. they've how to been pushed up to halfway. i think we should go all the way. but we'll have to let our leaders work on this and see, hoeffully, an agreement that goes as far as possible. >> as the haggling continues, i'm going to ask you, senator sessions. speaker boehner said, and i think it's sarcasm, thank you for painting me into a box. talking about the tea partiers. have they held the republican leadership sort of hostage in these negotiations. >> that's the democratic spin. >> this is what speaker boehner said. >> i know that. i'm telling you what the real
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deal is. this week, the house republican house will submit a mature, serious budget for long-term reform that will avoid a debt crisis that the country is facing in two years, according to mr. erskine bowles. the democrats have no plan except the president's plan. which makes the debt worse than the current trajectory we're on. it raises taxes. it increases spending. it doubles the debt. interest will go from $200 billion last year in one year, to $900 billion in ten years. crowding out all sorts of programs. >> senator schumer -- >> let me say this, christiane. i have a lot of sympathy for speaker boehner because he does want to come to an agreement. the one group in the way here is the tea party. they have said that a shutdown is a good thing. you saw it on the tape. some of their leaders have said
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it over and over again. sarah palin, mike pence, michelle bachmann. they say it's our way or no way. that's not how the american government works. here's the good news. the american people are seeing the tea party for what it is -- extreme. their popularity is declining. they now have only 33% of people in support of them. 47% against them. when they lose clout, it makes an agreement much more likely. it's another reason i'm optimistic. >> let me ask you this, today, rather, this week, you sort of stepped in it, sort of recording wise. you were caught briefing your fellow senators on how to address this issue. didn't know that the reporters were still on the conference call. let's play that. it plays right into the spin and the language of what is going on right now. >> i always use the word extreme. that's what the caucus instructed me to do the other week. extreme cuts and all the riders.
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and boehner's in a box. but if he supports the tea party, there's going to inevitably be a shutdown. >> now, you know, i have no problem with reporters hearing that. i said it a few hours before on the floor of the senate. i said on it this show. the tea party is the group standing in the way. they are extreme. any group that says you don't cut oil subsidies to companies making billions and billions of dollars. subsidies that were passed when the price of oil was $17 to encourage production and now the price is over $100. and at the same time, says, cut student aid to help qualified students go to college, yeah. i believe they're extreme. i have no problem with that. >> okay, senator sessions. extreme and holding the party hostage. >> it's absolutely false. millions of americans participated in the tea parties. tens of millions of americans support and believe what they're saying.
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they are right fundamentally. maybe they don't understand all the washington politics. they know the country is on a path to fiscal disaster. as erskine bowles said. as secretary geithner has said. we're heading in this democratic leadership, proposing nothing. but to attack the people that are trying to get this country on the right course. >> do you believe there will be a shutdown? >> i hope not. >> but do you think there will be? >> i doubt it. i doubt there will be a shutdown. >> we do have to talk at another time about the huge, megaissues, tinkering around the edges. the big, big entitlement programs. >> trillions of dollars. >> and we'll have you back -- >> the president has no plan whatsoever to deal with it. >> there seems to be no plan in general. we'll discuss that the next time. thank you for being on the program. and tell us your thoughts on the war on capitol hill. tweet me. up next, new job numbers
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moving in the right direction. as we have heard. could a government shutdown deal a serious blow to the recovery? we'll get answers from our "roundtable." recovery? we'll get answers from or "roundtable." an ibm computer system named watson won jeopardy. but the real winner? human kind. life is really about questions and answers. this technology can help us get some of those answers. we're going to revolutionize many, many fields with this new capability: healthcare, government, finance, anywhere decision- making depends on deeper understanding of the huge wealth of information that's out there. i thought the game was the end... i'm realizing it's just the beginning. that's what i'm working on. i'm an ibmer. and having a partner like northern trust -- one of the nation's largest wealth managers -- makes all the difference. our goals-based investment strategies are tailored to your needs and overseen by experts who seek to maximize opportunities
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[ applause ] >> the president at a u.p.s. facility on friday. and yes, the jobs picture is looking up. unemployment is the lowest it's been since march 2009. just after president obama took office. it's good news, if 8.8% unemployment can be considered good news. but as recovery picks up steam, the budget showdown in washington threatens to derail the progress. here to make sense of it all, our "roundtable" with george will, paul krugman, torie clark, the former pentagon spokeswoman in the bush administration and david ignatius from "the washington post." great to see you all here. so, the jobs numbers, good, right? >> this is better than naught. better than no jobs. unemployment is a funny number. unemployment, you're only considered unemployed if you're
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actively looking for work. over the past year, the unemployment rates have come down a lot. but that's basically almost all because fewer people are looking for work. >> where is it heading? in terms of the people looking for work? >> it's still terrible. it's a terrible job market. it's not deteriorating. but it's still a very -- there's still about five times as many people looking for jobs as there are job openings. the average length of unemployment hit a new record. so we're in a situation where things are not getting worse, or at least not getting worse in all dimensions. >> is that good news? it's not getting worse. >> the good news within the news is that there are 14,000 fewer people working in government. a corollary of what paul said is when the economy picks up and people become encouraged to go back into seeking jobs, you could have the economy rising and unemployment rising simultaneously. we lost more jobs in the great recession than the last four recessions combined.
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we have had, for 28 months, basically zero interest rates. the federal reserve board has been buying 70% of the new issues of treasury debt. that ends in june. that probably distresses paul. >> the aftermath of a terrible financial crisis. this is the worst since the 1930s, is always a prolonged period of weak growth. and the tragedy is that washington has given up on the jobs picture. it's not a failure of policy. i think the policies undertaken made things less bad than they would have been. but here we are still with terrible unemployment rates. 37 weeks, the average unemployed person is unemployed. and no interest in washington about creating jobs. >> we were speaking to senators sessions and schumer. did you hear anything from them that would lead to a slightly less grim outlook? >> only that you heard a reluctance on both sides to take the budget showdown off the edge of a cliff. i didn't hear much enthusiasm
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for a shutdown from senator sessions on the republican side. i think what's excited the white house is not the unemployment number per se. it's the job growth number. the economy is finally looking to be beginning to generate jobs that would, over time, get you on a trajectory of more normal growth. we're not there yet. i think people see a light at the end of the tunnel. they say, wee see the tunnel. >> i think the good thing is neither senator tried to score huge points one way or the other. here's the failure of policy. what will get the private sector humming and hiring is if they have predictability in things like regulatory regimes. and are some of the trade agreements going to go through, that rereally need? it's a global picture. not just a domestic one.
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there's a lot going on. nobody seems to be focusing on that. paul is laughing. >> the reason businesses are not investing is because they have tons and tons of excess capacity. there's a clear relationship between the amount of unemployment and business investment. there's nothing, all of the stuff about uncertainty is a myth being made up to blame this on obama. >> money is a coward. it's not going to go unless it can make money. >> torie mentioned reform. this week, jeffrey immelt. an issue. the president's adviser, allegedly having paid no tax and made billions of dollars. in profits, the company. it was okay. he took advantage of the system. is it right? does that need to be conformed? g.e.? >> it's an old axiom that is what is alarming in washington is not what's done that is illegal but what is done that's legal.
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no one is accusing g.e. of doing anything other than taking advantage of the tax code we have over time. wouldn't it be wonderful if we had tax code that looks as if someone designed it on purpose. according to investor's business daily, 975 people work in the tax department of g.e., just trying to mine the tax code for advantage. >> that stinks. >> it doesn't look good, though, does it? the optics of this? >> i have to say obama has a pretty bad record now. he picked allen simpson to head the debt commission. he made strange remarks. he picked the head of a corporation managing to not pay any taxes. we do need tax reform. but the biggest obstacle to tax reform right now is any reasonable tax reform will raise taxes on some people. you're going to close loopholes. we have the right wing of the. party, you have the grover
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norquist types saying, don't raise taxes on anybody. >> do you think president obama is as involved in, for instance, the budget battles going on in congress as you would like to see him? >> in classic obama fashion he's involved but tries to conceal his hand. he's the most reticent chief executive i can remember. yesterday, saturday, he was on the phone to john boehner and harry reid, trying to talk about the details of the compromise they hope will be coming this week. on the question that paul is raising, whether we're every going to get to the point of talking about tax simplification, changes that would lead to reductions in the deficit, i think the white house is getting ready for a process. i think it could come quite soon, by june, july, in which the white house will begin to roll out ideas similar to the
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simpson-bowles deficit commission. i think we could have, this summer, a very big and important debate on how to get these numbers better. >> we didn't get to talk about the big cuts that have to be made in entitlements with the senators. and also on the pentagon. where do you think can big cuts be made in the pentagon budget? >> oh, man. it's like the morbidly obese patient that's like, where do you start? it really is. and god bless anyone, rumsfeld, gates and others who are trying. it's very, very hard. they have made significant cuts. there is plenty, plenty of waste in that place. you have 2 or 3 million employees, there's a lot of waste. that would be the first place i would start. most people would argue. that's not the one that will make a big difference. whether or not the folks up the street are serious is if they tackle the major, major entitlement programs.
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the republicans say they are going to. we have yet to see it. >> hold that thought. hocan the united states extinguish the fuse lit by the renegade florida pastor who took it upon himself to burn the koran? we'll have that when we come back. future. he can't say social security... much less tell you what it means. he doesn't know that his parents are counting on the money they pay in. or that the hard earned benefits his grandparents receive... are secure. right now he's not thinking about his future. but we are. aarp has been working to preserve social security for more than 50 years. join us in a conversation to strengthen it for years to come. impact wool exports from new zealand, textile production in spain, and the use of medical technology in the u.s.?
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should you bear any responsibility for inciting today's horrific actions? >> we do not feel responsible, no. we feel more that the muslims and the radical of islam use that as an excuse. i would tell him. people died. seven all together have died. we are good people. we're working hard. you should be feeling guilty. and should not do that. that was stefan de misteur chief of the u.n. assistance mission in afghanistan talking
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there, weighing in on pastor terry jones who decided to burn a koran. that set off a tidal wave of anger and violence. in afghanistan. pastor jones is unrepentant and unbowed. and a huge headache to the obama administration. so let's bring that topic back to our "roundtable," let me ask you, david, is this a one-time horrible thing or will it have a lingering effect? and to the detriment of the americans? >> sadly, this incident of people protesting, killing people, because of anger at the burning of korans. it's the anger at what they see as a united states that doesn't respect their religion recurs in afghanistan so often. i think they are irresponsible actions by pastor jones and by and by the muslim sheikhs that incited people. but the larger point here is that deep into a war where our
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strategy is counterinsurgency, getting them to work with us to fight against the taliban, you see what angry, anti-american peopling is out there. even in areas that are remote there is fighting, in the north. that is where the 12 u.n. people were killed. that's far from the battlefields. that's what worries me. >> what should the administration do to win back some of these hearts and minds? >> it is going to be very, very hard. right or wrong, they take it as a sign, an excuse, and a reason to go after the united states. >> general petraeus came out strongly today, categorically blaming the pastor and saying, this is not representative of the u.s. >> and i know extraordinary people at extraordinary levels have talked to him. yes, you can talk about freedom of speech. but you cannot do this and underestimate the consequences it can have around the world. there was no need to do this. it will take a long time to repair these things. fairly or unfairly. it will take a long time to
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repair them. >> and here we are, two weeks into libya now. some people are calling this a war. others aren't. are you calling it a war? >> of course it's a war. war planes flown by warriors doing what war looks like, what is dropping bombs. >> did the president convince you this was in the vital national interests? a limited goal, limited durations? >> what he said was broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. if so, we're making it. it's perfectly clear that we who worried about mission creep were wrong. it was mission gallop weeks ago when the president said it would be matter of days not weeks. we were told there would be no boots on the grounds. well there may not be boots, but there are certainly shoes on the ground now. they're occupied by cia people because like it or not, the logic of events says that this is a failure if gadhafi survives. some of us worry that, even worse than the failure would be the success. it will whet the appetite for humanitarian imperialists for more of these interventions.
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>> well, general jones was telling us it was a risk, one way or the other, whether gadhafi stays or goes, mostly because we don't know the rebels. a lot has been made of the end game. george rightly mentioned that the president said that regime change was not the goal. but the president says gadhafi has to go. where are we here? >> this is clear. i actually have a lot of sympathy for the president on this. this was not like iraq. this was not a gung-ho president that wanted to get into this. there will be no photos of landing on an aircraft carrier. he was dragged in by the spectacle of a looming humanitarian disaster. people like me who are opposed to iraq are divided. sometimes divided within ourselves, as i am. you were pulled in by events. no clear end game.
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i think the president's speech was not effective. i'm pretty sure he's internally divided too. i think that's to his credit. >> wow. maxwell taylor, who president kennedy brought back to look at vietnam did an amazing speech. he said, when you look at the these things, the commitment of forces, you better be able to explain to the man in the street in a simple sentence or two what you're trying to accomplish. i could pick 500 people off the street, they would not be able to answer the question. i don't know the answer. >> one of your former colleagues, megan sullivan said it could be obama's iraq. i mean is that completely f fantast fantastical? do you agree? >> i think anybody that says they know is stupid or lying. we don't know. >> david? >> you're going to be stupid or lying. go ahead. >> the unknowns are scary. secretary of defense gates said to me and then on your show,
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i think, this is dark territory. we don't see what is down there. i think there's reason not to worry this is spinning off to an iraq. there are not the tens of thousands of troops on the ground. >> do you think gadhafi will go? >> i think the white house strategy today is to seek what one person described to me as regime implosion. that is happening. this regime requires cash to survive. it has a small inner circle. one by one, they're leaving. they're going london. defecting to egypt. >> two biggies. >> there are more on the way. i have been told another senior cabinet smin ster has made his deal and will be out soon. his deal is made. i wouldn't rule that out. >> or a safe area around benghazi for 12 years. like we had with hussein in iraq.
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>> well, the problem with the kurdish protection is a better parallel. that was not ideal but was not such a terrible thing either. we have to go. everybody, thank you very much. this conversation continues in the green room. you can watch at abcnews.com/this week. up next, a tax season warning. we look at the week ahead on abc news. electronic thieves may be after your refunds. news. electronic thieves may be after your resundays.
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tomorrow, on "good morning america," bill clinton takes a break from his globe trotting to talk about what he's been up to recently and why. >> and i wanted to come here and see this. >> the former president with a full plate on monday's "gma." on "world news" a new nightmare on top of the old. getting your taxes done is bad enough. now there are crooks involved. >> i went into a panic. i went into an absolute panic. >> someone stole her identity in order to steal her refund. what to watch out for on "world news." "nightline" will focus on libya. i'll follow developments with you on twitter, my facebook page and on abc news.com. i'll see you online and here again next sunday on "this week." thank you for joining us.
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